you're looking for a short break from the central Okanagan's summer
heat, Bear Creek Provincial Park may be the place to visit for easy
camping and picnics. Here, 15 minutes from downtown Kelowna, is everything
from soft beaches to a wild, rocky canyon. On the lakeshore are beautiful,
sandy beaches and a parkland campground with showers, a sani-station
and an amphitheatre.
Camping: The park has one campground,
though it is divided by Lambly (Bear) Creek. There are 122 vehicle
accessible sites in the park, including 18 doubles. All campsites
require reservations at this park.
Sites are # 1-80 on the north side of the creek in two loops. These
medium to large sized sites are found amongst well spaced trees
and irrigated lawns. The trees are well trimmed and a mix of both
coniferous and deciduous with many non-native species present. The
effect is of fairly open, well manicured grounds. The sites are
gravel and have a fire ring and picnic table on a cement pad. There
are no BBQ table attachments. Nine of these sites back onto the
creek and are slightly smaller and surrounded by more dense vegetation.
Crossing the creek within the campground leads to sites 81-122 on
the south side of the creek. This area has its own shower/washroom
building and taps.
A gatehouse is situated near the park entrance just off Westside
Road with three payphones and an information shelter. There is a
gate on Westside Road which is locked from 11:00pm to 7:00am during
the operating season, and then locked during the off-season.
Gentle trails take hikers around the campsites and along the creek
as it passes through the campground. The Bear Creek Canyon trail
is a popular, more demanding hike offering spectacular views of
the creek and the surrounding area. The trail leaves the parking
lot and makes a loop of the canyon. Hikers can cross the creek on
a footbridge to the north side of the canyon and begin their ascent
of the slope. A sturdy staircase of milled lumber makes the climb
a little easier and reduces impact on the plant life and soil structure.
A viewpoint after the first flight of stairs offers a place to rest
and look down at the creek. The wide, hard-packed trail continues
up the rim of the canyon with two more viewpoints perched on the
edge of the canyon wall and hemmed in by chainlink fence. The view
of the creek, as it meanders through the steep-walled canyon forming
various ripples and small waterfalls, is fantastic. Gradually the
trail levels out and then begins a descent to the creek. A pit toilet
is located here.
trail follows the creek for a short distance before crossing to
the south side. The canyon forms a microclimate with noticeably
different vegetation on the two sides of the creek. The slope on
the north is dry with Ponderosa pine and bunches of grass while
the cooler south side has Douglas fir and carpets of moss, evidence
of more moisture and shade. Allow 1 hour to hike Canyon and for
your own safety and preservation of the park, obey posted signs
and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant
life and soil structure. The Canyon Trail was affected by a wildfire
in 2011. Wildfires have produced many hazards in the area. You should
be aware of these hazards and the increased risk of injury prior
to entering the area. The hazards include: unstable trees, holes
and loose rock. The hazards have been reduced along the main trail
system and campground areas. Travel off the main trail system has
an increased level of risk.
Bear Creek flows through the bottom of the tree-walled canyon, bringing
with it small flakes of placer gold. Along the trails above the
canyon, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir compete with juniper, bunchgrass,
and prickly-pear cactus for the area's meagre rainfall. Below, moistened
by the mist rising off the waterfalls, is yet another world, one
of maple and birch, wild rose, horsetail, and moss. Wildlife abounds
sturdy footwear because the prickly pear cacti on the more exposed
rocky slopes of the upland region of the park can puncture skin
even through clothing and running shoes. This area is a feast for
the senses, with its expansive views of the lake and canyon; its
scent of cottonwood, pine, and fir forests; and its splashes of
Over 400 metres of coarse sandy beach stretches the length of the
campground from the day-use area to the creek. There are pebbles
on the beach but no big rocks in the water. The beach is narrow
and the swim area is marked with buoys. There are no lifeguards
on duty at provincial parks.
fishing is allowed on Okanagan Lake. The boat launch at Bear Creek
adjacent to the park, which is operated and maintained by the Regional
District of the Central Okanagan, was closed indefinitely effective
April 4, 2011. Kayak and peddle boats are available on site for
public rental. Okanagan Lake provides many waterskiing and jetskiing
opportunities. Jetski and boat rentals are available at Lake Okanagan
Resort ten minutes north of the park on Westside Road.
Areas: The large day-use/picnic area has 59 tables, 12 with
BBQ attachments. The tables are spread out on lawns overlooking
the beach, and shaded by well-spaced mature cottonwood and oak trees.
The tables have a great view across the lake to the city of Kelowna
and Knox Mountain. Right next to the parking lot is a bathroom/change
house with flush toilets that are wheelchair accessible.
the collecting season a sani-station/dump is available and a fee
is charged for the service. The sani-station/dump is located across
Westside road from the gatehouse next to the Canyon Trail parking
Creek Provincial Park is located on Westside Road, 9 km off Highway
97, west of Kelowna. Travelling south on Highway 97, cross the floating
bridge on Highway 97 and travel 2 km, then turn west onto Westside
Road at the main intersection, and follow for 7 km. The entrance
to the park is just passed the bridge over the Lambly (Bear) Creek.